Cape Town - At first glance, it’s the most incongruous thing you’ve ever heard of: Bikers are being asked to rally in aid of “Keep a Girl Child in School”, to collect sanitary pads for the three million girls who miss school each year in South Africa because they can’t afford basic sanitary products.
Think again. If there is one thing that will hit any biker’s soft spot, it is an opportunity to help the weaker and more vulnerable members of society - from pet food for abandoned animals to toys for disadvantaged children to something so basic that the girls who need them most are too shy to ask for them.
It’s an initiative of Bikers for Mandela Day, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, celebrating the centenary of Madiba’s birth by doing what bikers do best - having fun while doing good.
Bikers for Mandela Day was started in 2010 by Madiba’s former personal assistant, Zelda la Grange, to celebrate his legacy by helping those less fortunate. Since then, the rides have covered more than 100 000km, through every province of South Africa as well as Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique.
The riders have helped restore orphanages, delivered food and blankets to old age homes, stationery to schools, planted vegetables gardens in needy communities and spruced up facilities at Rape Care centres and police stations across South Africa. In particular, they helped build a classroom at a crèche on a farm in De Rust in the Western Cape in 2010. Two years ago, it was reported that all the children from that crèche can read and write when going to primary school.
“This year’s rides will allow more bikers to participate in this nine-year old tradition,” said La Grange. “Madiba believed that every small effort counts in bringing about change. My hope is that all riders of everything from scooters to superbikes - anything with two wheels and an engine - will join us to make a huge impact.
“As little as R180 can provide enough sanitary pads to keep one girl in school for a whole year.”
Bikers across the country are encouraged to participate by joining the mass rallies in Cape Town and Johannesburg, by arranging a ride in their own cities, or by donating on the Mimi Women crowdfunding page at www.givengain.com/e/bikersformandeladay2018.
Cape Town riders are invited to meet on the Grand Parade in the CBD at 8:00am on Saturday 14 July. The ride will leave at 9.30am and travel to Drakenstein Prison outside Paarl.
The Johannesburg rally will take place on Sunday 15 July, from 8am at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, with the ride leaving at 9.30 to travel to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Participants are asked to bring as many packs of sanitary pads as they can afford or carry, which will be distributed among disadvantaged girls by project partner Mimi Women - a South African organisation that makes, sells and distributes sanitary pads. The company will also be selling pads at both the Cape Town and Johannesburg rides.
Register for either ride at www.nelsonmandela.org/nelson-mandela-100; scroll down to find the registration form and fill in ‘Cape Town Mass Ride’ or ‘Johannesburg Mass Ride’ as your reason for being there.